Draft law on validity of jirgas opposed
KARACHI – Speakers at a meeting on November 5, condemned the proposed law to legalize the jirga system in the province and demanded that it should not be formulated either by promulgating an ordinance or by getting it passed through the assembly.
They were speaking at the consultative meeting on Jirga System in Sindh, organized jointly by the Joint Action Committee on People’s Rights and Legislative Watch Programme of the Aurat Foundation.
They said on one hand the government claimed to be moderate, progressive, forward looking, enlightened, middle-class, and on the other it was planning to make laws that would push the society from the 21st century to the stone-age.
They said through this proposed law, the government wanted to strengthen the grip of feudals on masses. They said women who were already being victimized would be further victimized.
They said that gender biased attitude of the government was clear from the fact that under this law, disputes could be heard and decided by the “nek mard” (good man) which exposed the gender bias. The word could have been “nek insan” (good person).
They said jirgas, by their composition, were gender- biased and a majority of the jirgas were held to settle disputes relating to women (Karo Kari, etc) but in jirga, a women had never been allowed to participate either as a complainant, witness or even as a defendant.
They said menace of the Karo Kari would spread even faster in the society as under jirgas the majority of the culprits would be pardoned by the heirs of the victim. They rejected the government’s reason that getting justice through the courts was expensive and a lengthy process while the jirgas decided the disputes quickly. They said that the government should reform the judicial system so that it could dispense justice quickly and at an affordable cost.
They also termed the jirga system as a parallel judicial system that was being legalized and imposed on the people, in general, and those living in the rural areas, in particular.
They said that this proposed law was faulty also as under this proposed law, no right of appeal was available to the aggrieved party against the decision given by the “nek mard” which was against the recognized norms of the civilized society which suggested that a right of appeal should be available to the parties.
One of the speakers said that at least on two occasions the jirgas were held under or the decisions were taken by the women who are the Nazims of the two districts in the interior of the province.
They said that jirgas were legalized by the English rulers in certain areas where they nominated their favoured people as sardars and through them controlled their tribesmen. Sardars who were obedient to the English rulers, victimized the masses and strengthened the rulers.
They also urged the political parties to mobilize the masses and create and spread awareness regarding the proposed jirga law. Later, a resolution, which criticized the government for its intention of legalizing the jirga system was adopted which said that it was the government’s move to weaken the judiciary and further strengthen the grip of feudals on the masses.
The resolution further demanded that the High Court’s order banning the jirgas be implemented. A copy of the proposed draft of the ordinance, which has not yet been signed by Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, was also distributed among the participants.
I. A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, former judge of the Supreme Court Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid, former Federal Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Iqbal Haider, Sen Tanvir Khalid (PML Q), Nisar Khuhro (PPP MPA), Zohra Yusuf, Anis Haroon, M. B. Naqvi, Beena Sarwar, Amar Sindhu, Irfana Malah, Uzma Noorani, Rochiram, Akhtar Baloch, Nadia Haroon, Sheen Farrukh, Hassan Pathan, Nuzhat Shirin, Marium Palijo and others also spoke.